Date of Award

Spring May 2012

Access Restriction

Campus Access only Research Projects

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Marital and Family Therapy

School or College

College of Communication and Fine Arts

First Advisor

Paige Asawa


This study explored the impact and trauma that a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment can have on a women’s image and experience of her body. Focus group methodology was part of the qualitative art-based research approach. Since the research was focused on body image, the participants were asked to create art based on their experience of their body before and after cancer treatment. Content analysis was applied to the transcripts of the focus group sessio n to consider themes. The clusters were then correlated with the imagery in the participants’ artwork. The study results suggest that women who have undergone medical treatment for cancer have an altered view of their body image including fragmentation of the body, scarring and disfigurement, censoring of the body and feeling less feminine. The study asserts that the art process and discussion, in a therapeutic setting, provided a supportive environment for cancer patients to discuss sensitive information about their perspectives of their body, diagnosis and treatment.